Srinagar: Congress on Friday hit out at Prime Minister Narendra Modi over Rs 745 crore package to flood victims of the Kashmir Valley, saying the relief announced by him was a "crude joke" with the people of the state and showed "casual approach" of the Centre to help them.
Jammu and Kashmir Congress chief Saif-ud-din Soz said in a statement that the relief package for sufferers of the recent devastating floods "amounted to a crude joke with the people of state."
His reaction comes a day after Modi, who was here for nearly four hours after his visit to Siachen, announced Rs 570 crore assistance for housing and another Rs 175 crore for six major hospitals in the state that were in poor condition and required immediate intervention.
The announcement had already been described by ruling National Conference and its coalition partner Congress as "big let down" and a "joke".
"Since he (Modi) was giving a message to Kashmir, he should have been conscious of the level of devastation that had taken place in Srinagar and elsewhere in Kashmir," Soz said.
He said the announcement of Rs 570 crores package for reconstruction of houses of the affected people is seen here as a situation of "adding insult to the injury."
This also showed, in ample measure, "his casual approach to give a helping hand to the people, who had to face the ravages of severest flood in their recorded history," the Congress leader said.
Soz questioned the Prime Minister's delay in response to the devastation in Kashmir when there was a possibility of bringing succor to the people who have to face hazards of approaching winter.
"Modi government has already lost two months in organizing response to the devastation in Kashmir and now he intends to examine the situation through a team of experts which may further delay relief," he said.
He claimed Modi had taken a leaf out of UPA's policies of giving relief directly to the sufferers. "I don't think anybody will be objecting to direct grant of relief to the affected people," he said.
J&K Chief Minister Omar Abdullah had said yesterday that he hoped that that there will be some clarity as to whether this money is an installment towards the full package.
"We had hoped that we would get some indication with regard to the acceptance of the package that the state government has asked for but that was not forthcoming," he said.
Omar said his every effort was focused on ensuring that no one is without shelter before the onset of winter and that's why the package submitted by the state assumes significance.
The Omar Abdullah-led Cabinet has submitted a Rs 44,000 crore package to the Centre for relief and rehabilitation of the people of the state affected by the floods that virtually submerged Srinagar city and south Kashmir.
After the announcement last night, NC spokesman said
people had high expectations that Modi would make a significant announcement but the package announced "doesn't go far enough".
"People criticizing the Chief Minister before this visit saying that 'Omar has failed, now Modi will come to rescue us' should realize how misplaced their criticism and expectations were," the spokesperson said.
Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha and former state chief minister Ghulam Nabi Azad had called the announcement a "joke with the people of the state".
"This is just playing a joke with the people of the state or rather this is insulting to all those who have suffered human and collateral loss", he had said.
Main Opposition party in Jammu and Kashmir PDP said this may not be the final package because the devastation "is at a very enormous scale".
"We believe that this is only an installment coming to the Kashmir Valley," party spokesperson Nayeem Akhtar said.
CPI-M leader Mohammed Yusuf Tarigami termed the package as an "insult" and accused the Centre of playing with the sentiments of the people of the state.